Review: The Artistry Of The Standard/Misha Tsiganov (Criss Cross Jazz) by Larry Reni Thomas
(Published: March 16, 2014)
Russian-born, Berklee College-educated, Brooklyn, New York-based, much-in-demand pianist Misha Tsiganov has a serious set of chops. He displays them quite well on his latest recording, "The Artistry Of The Standard" (Criss Cross Jazz). His swinging, soulful arrangements are superb and show that he has much respect for standards, or tunes that never grow old, or stale. All of the selections have an in-the-moment feeling to them and the group sizzles on the straight-ahead tunes, mid-tempo, waltz and the lone slow piece(Stevie Wonder's "Make Sure You're Sure"). But, the best part about "The Artistry" is the nice, long extended length of the titles, which gives the performers ample time to stretch out. This adds more spice to what is already a spicy, pleasant-sounding musical experience.
Tsiganov, who moved to America in 1991, and to New York , two years later, has performed with percussionist Norman Hedman, saxophonist Chico Freeman, percussionist Joe Chambers and with the band on The Bill Cosby Show. Misha has done his homework. It is quite obvious that he spent a great deal of time on his arrangements and that he selected the right musicians to make the recording sound like what is clearly one of the best albums of the year. He should be highly-recommended for not only his choice of standards, but, also for use of his fellow Russian countrymen, including the superb, sizzling trumpet/fluegelhorn player Alex Sipiagin and the strong, sturdy bassist Boris Kozlov. The rest of the quintet includes two outstanding artists: the tasteful tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake and the masterful, always, in-the-pocket drummer Donald Edwards.
The group's treatment of the Charlie Parker composition, "Ah-Leu-Cha" swings mightily, and their interpretation of Wes Montgomery's "Four On Six" will almost knock your socks off. Most of the upbeat cuts are fresh, colorful readings that keep the listeners snapping their fingers and moving their heads up and down. Every tune is highly hip and the album is one you could listen to from beginning to end. The best piece, however, one that stands out, one that bears playing over and over, is the splendid Wayne Shorter's waltz, "This Is For Albert." Misha did a thoroughly good job with it and proves that "Albert" should definitely be called an long-lasting, righteous, standard.
This release sounds like a wonderful labor of love for the 47-year-old pianist who we hope to hear a great deal from in the future. He is on his way and we are eagerly looking forward to his next project. He is making his mark on the American jazz scene and is showing that Russians can excellently arrange, perform and deliver jazz music, too. In fact, with "The Artistry Of The Standard" Misha Tsiganov does more than that. He adds punch to the hunch, fuel to the fire, proof to the pudding that jazz music is a world-wide universal art form that should be enjoyed, played and listened to by folks all over the world.
More Information: http://www.mishajazzmusic.com